In https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrrz54UtkCc at about 2:08, the woman says

"There was , chewing gum..no not chewing. Popping." before she fired 2 "warning shots" into his head for "popping" gum (and not chewing - like there would be a difference)

This phrase sticks out to me, and I am sure there is a technique to describe this type of disillusionment it if I recall correctly.

I'm disinclined to use 'hyperbole', which fits but doesn't feel like the right one per se.

closed as unclear what you're asking by 200_success, phenry, Chenmunka, aedia λ, tchrist Feb 11 '15 at 23:54

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  • I don't understand the technique you are talking about here. Are you saying that you discern no difference between Chewing and Popping gum? And hence you feel that an oratorical flourish is being used when saying "Popping"? Or are you referring to "warning shots" into the head. Or are you referring to the "like there would be a difference"? – djna Feb 11 '15 at 9:45
  • Shooting someone for "popping" gum would usually be considered an overreaction – blgt Feb 11 '15 at 10:08
  • @djna I am referring to when she says "not chewing..popping", ie that the difference between chewing and popping is enough for her to shoot him. – not_not Feb 11 '15 at 10:17
  • 1
    Is "popping gum" not merely chewing it, but blowing bubbles with it, allowing them to pop and then starting all over again? – Andrew Leach Feb 11 '15 at 11:23

As I understand your question, you feel that the speaker in saying

  There was, chewing gum..no not chewing. Popping.

is making a distinction where none exists: chewing and popping are in your view the same or very similar and you seek a term for this rhetorical device.

As an aside, in my view the distinction between Chewing and Popping is actually valid. I speak from the heart: I have a seat at the football, and every match the chap behind me chews gum, I don't care at all. BUT he pops it right behind my head, this is amazingly annoying! Being British of course, I say nothing :-) So in this case, I don't think this is actually a rhetorical device, it's just clarifying that some uses of gum are more annoying than others.

However, can imagine similar scenarios where such a rhetorical device is being used, how would we describe such an elevation of a very minor, or immaterial, distinction?

In business meetings I've heard the phrase "A distinction without a difference", but that doesn't fit this more rhetorical situation. Another phrase is "making a mountain out of a molehill" but again this doesn't quite fit as this implies exaggerating something small but real. In this context I'd consider using

 Straining at a gnat

leaving unsaid the

 while swallowing a camel

my implication being that the speaker is deeply offended by the trivial popping and in the wider context sees no problem in shooting someone.

Another description, which I do think fits:

 making something out of nothing

You are seeking a concise term for this kind of rhetorical device, and I've failed to find a precise one. The effect is of putting two related terms side-by-side so it seems to a form of


If done in a knowing sort of a way we could say that we are using an

ironic juxtaposition

We could say that the speaker thinks they are using


that is producing a climax, "not just chewing, POPPING.", but in our eyes failed to do so, and as this is done in an unknowing way, where we the listener somewhat sneer at this attempt we get a

  Bathetic Auxesis

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